As Big East Media Day rolls on in Providence, the results of the highly anticipated preseason media poll were announced this morning. Here’s a breakdown of what the conference is predicted to look like in November.
1. Louisville (24) 219
2. USF (4) 176
3. Rutgers 155
4. Cincinnati 139
5. Pittsburgh 131
6. Connecticut 77
7. Syracuse 70
8. Temple 41
Louisville — in a runaway vote — was deemed the preseason favorites in the Big East. They garnered 24 of the 28 first-place votes. It’s going to be difficult for Charlie Strong to play the disrespect card all season when his team was favored to win the conference in Vegas and the minds of those who cover the conference closely.
South Florida and Rutgers ranked 2nd and 3rd, respectively, in the poll. As the league has changed over the years, as have the top teams. When an influx of teams join in 2013, the league is likely to look different again. For non-traditional powers such as USF and Rutgers, there is clearly an opportunity to succeed in the moment.
While Louisville was clearly the media favorite — they were the only team to garner over 200 votes — the middle of the conference was closely ranked. USF, Rutgers, Cincinnati, and Pittsburgh — ranked second through fifth in the poll — were separated by only 45 votes. There seems to be a sense of parity through the middle of the league.
As for the bottom feeders — Connecticut, Syracuse, Temple — the voters weren’t kind. It was to be expected with Temple as the transition back to Big East action. Syracuse clearly has a long way to go to be considered a contender again. Connecticut’s fall is stark, though. Their Fiesta Bowl trip of a few years ago feels like a distant memory. If their play lives up to the preseason billing, their challenge to regroup will get even more difficult next season and beyond.
Mark down October 20 on your calendar. The preseason “favorites” — Louisville and South Florida — will meet at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. While the league can look quite different by then, it will represent a fun test for both squads.
Joe is also the host of Charm City Sports Talk on WNST.net in Baltimore and member of the Society of American Baseball Research.